Blog Archives

Managing E-Learning: Week 1

I sat in  on the first tutorial for E-Learning, and found it very interesting. As I said to course-coordinator, Wendy Fasso, it’s one think to be familiar with or competent with technology, it’s another to be able to use it effectively in the classroom to support learning, rather than just use ICTs because they need to be used.

Anyway, this series of blog posts are intended to be a reflection of what was covered in each weeks lesson, and a deconstruction of the different tools and technologies that Wendy is introducing the class to in each session. So, in this weeks lesson, Wiki’s (www.wikispaces.com), Blogs (www.blogger.com), concept/mind maps (www.bubbl.us & www.text2map.com) and online bookmarking (www.delicious.com) were covered. In addition, the use of tools such as Google Maps and Microsoft PowerPoint were also discussed.

I found the use of Microsoft PowerPoint very interesting, as it demonstrated use of it that I had never considered by using it simply for it’s drag ‘n drop capabilities. In doing so, it’s possible to use it to reproduce concrete manipulative activities, i.e. when teaching multiplication, you can give students a PowerPoint with a load of pineapple images on it (or have the students create it), and then drag the pineapples around to answer / help soft the problems.However, my personal preference for this form of activity, unless the goal of the lesson is to teach ICTs AND multiplication at the same time, would be for the students to use concrete (real) materials, such as plastic fruit, etc.But this also demonstrates that I am critically thinking about this use of technology, and choosing to not use it as it may not be the best tool for this particular learning activity.

Next up, blogs. Blogs have become quite popular over the last ten years, due to their ease of use, permanency, and ability to present a wide range of multimedia content, be it video, sound or pictures. But in reality, a blog is simple a more up-to-date diary or journal, which can also be publicly viewed and commented on, if the author so desires it to be. A blog can either be private, and therefore remain a personal journal, can be viewed by an authorized individuals, and therefore could be used for business / industry without the concern that unsavory individuals or the general public would have access the material n the blog. It can also be made publicly visible, there for the whole world to see. In addition, the author of a blog can choose to allow people to comment to the entries posted to the blog (the blog author/administrator moderate them to ensure they are relevant and suitable for public viewing before being accepted, and remove unwanted or irrelevant comments). This process allows for an individuals process or learning to be assessed as they progress through a unit of work and reflect on what they have learnt, and for the other learners to comment on this and respond to any questions or misconceptions the blog author has.

Wiki’s are an interesting topic. They are a perfect place for a group of students to either individually or in groups to document their learning. Wikis like Wikispaces make it very easy for students to make a site, add new pages or topics, and collaborate on a task. But the idea of a wiki goes back further than that, as the basic concept of a wiki is a place where it is easy to create a series of interlinked web-pages using a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor that removes the need for the author to know HTML code.For example, if I were making a wiki about e-learning, the words ‘blog’, ‘wiki’, ‘online bookmarking’ would actually be links to other pages, which expand on this concepts in further detail. So I suppose that wikis could be considered a interactive dictionary when they are used to document or explain a topic.

The next area, concept/mind maps are a very interesting area, as this requires learns to construct  frameworks in order to be able to use this tool. In doing so, it is possible to use these tools to identify common topics, and to organised and categories information. They are also commonly used ti aid in planning, and ensure that all aspects of a project have been considered. What online concept maps bring to this is the ease of creation, the easy of duplication, ability to collaborate rather than just one person work on it at a time, or each person work on their own different one, the ease of modification as well as the ability to work as a whole class.

The final tool that I will talk about is online bookmarking. The idea of storing your bookmarks online might a first seem strange. But when you stop and think about the benefits, you will quickly change your mind and wonder why you didn’t do this sooner! Firstly, there is access – when you’re not using your primary computer, you can still access all your bookmarks. So when you go to school or work, when you need that website you bookmarked last night at home, you don’t go without. Then there is the ability to share bookmarks. When you want to give somebody a link, you can just tell them to go to your bookmarks page and click on the link, or save it to their own account. Then there is the ability to search. If you like a particular site you’ve bookmarked, you can see what bookmarks that other people who saved the same page liked, and you might find some other great resources. But the primary reason that most people go to online bookmarking is simply for access to their bookmarks 24/7, regardless of if they’re at their own computer, or at a internet cafe or a friends. And you can also save new sites you come across when you’re on the go, so you never forget that site you saw on a colleagues computer that would be just perfect for tomorrows lesson!

Well, there you have it. That’s a brief overview of some of the tools and technologies that can be used in education to aid in teaching. How they can be used really varies from subject to subject and teacher to teacher, but in future entries I hope to give some examples and ideas on the uses for these and other tools to get you started!